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Thermoplastics replacing traditional materials - Trelleborg

Going global, accompanying the OEMs into new markets and constant investment in research and development are among the challenges facing suppliers.
One of those getting the mix right is Trelleborg Automotive. Automotive Industries (AI) asked Trelleborg Automotive President Roger Johansson, and asked him to tell us about the company.
Johansson: Trelleborg has a strong technology base. We offer NVH solutions for powertrain, chassis, body and braking systems. We hold leading positions for the supply of brake shims and thermoplastic boots used in driveline and steering applications and we have a strong share of the European hose market for automotive engine cooling and thermal management systems. We are constantly improving performance and reducing cost. Examples include our focus on replacing traditional materials with thermoplastics, and our air damping technology.
AI: Tell us about your company’s global strategy.
Our customers require global management and local supply. We are witnessing explosive growth in the Far East, Russia and Eastern Europe. This means rapidly expanding markets that need our technologies. Our strategy reflects this, introducing new plants in China, India, the Czech Republic and Romania. We are finalising a Joint Venture agreement with a leading Russian manufacturer of rubber to metal bonded components. Cost remains a crucial feature of the market. We must position ourselves to better serve our customers and to take best strategic advantage of our global manufacturing network. This has lead to recent plant closures in Western Europe as our customers relocate production further East.
AI: What growth opportunities do you see?
With our current global footprint we are ideally situated to benefit from the rapid global expansion the market is experiencing. Global platforms mean that customers are increasingly looking for suppliers who can offer design and manufacturing close to their own satellite and JV operations. As a supplier this means increased volumes and global growth. A recent example of this is the Renault Nissan P32 platform, or Qashqai, which will appear in Europe as the Renault Koleos, in Korea as the Samsung QM5, and in North America as the Nissan Vogue. All models share system architecture and components.
AI: How will you increase sales in the Americas and Asia?
Our global manufacturing strategy will play a great role in this, but we are also looking to expand our customer base and increase sales to the Japanese and Korean manufacturers. We have already had some success with this following our partnership with Korean manufacturer KunHwa and the setting up of a satellite sales and design office just outside Tokyo. Another goal is to increase our presence with the indigenous Chinese and Indian manufacturers through local manufacturing and design. Russia and Eastern Europe are also important.
AI: As a former vice-president of purchasing for General Motors, how would you describe Trelleborg Automotive’s efforts in providing quality and innovation to benefit car-makers?
Our innovation teams work with the customer in mind, stripping cost out without compromising performance, developing new materials to replace rubber and steel, and searching the globe to find best in class suppliers. We are constantly reviewing our procedures and product designs to take cost out and improve quality. What really distinguishes us from our competitors is our global reach and our ability to offer consistent levels of design, manufacture and service wherever our customers choose to operate.

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Wed. July 17th, 2024

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